Air travel has undoubtedly taken one of the hardest hits since the Coronavirus began. As the nation begins to slowly come out of quarantine and look to some sort of normalcy, we begin to wonder- is it safe to fly in the age of COVID?
Six months after the initial crisis began in our country, the TSA reports that they’ve definitely seen a rise in air travel since Labor Day, but that rise is still only about a quarter of the volume they see in typical years. And let’s examine the facts. First, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmission on any US flights. This begs the question, does that mean there is no risk? What are the odds of getting sick in the air? One common fear is the notion that the recycled air throughout the cabin will be a natural breeding ground to quickly transmit the virus among all of the passengers should a COVID positive passenger be on board. This is FALSE. According to the CDC, most viruses in fact do NOT spread easily on flights because of the way the air is filtered and then circulated from the ceiling to the floor. Carriers have been using HEPA filters on board since well before the Coronavirus pandemic. These filters capture at least 99.97% of airborne microbes by circulating the cabin air once every 2-4 minutes. Several recent studies have concluded risk is low, including this Harvard Study on the risk of COVID-19 transmission while flying.
Combine this with the strictly enforced policies of wearing a mask for the duration of the flight, leaving the middle seat open, limiting passengers, enhanced cleanings, temperature checks and health screenings and the probability of contracting COVID in flight goes down even more. The bottom line is use your common sense. Research the various airline carrier to make sure you’re comfortable with their health and safety protocols. Maintain a social distance in the airport. Wash your hands often. Use hand sanitizer. Wipe down the arms of your seat, your window shade, tray table and control buttons. Wear your mask at all times. Don’t touch your face. Apply for your TSA Pre-Check to minimize the need to stand in line for security. Pack lightly so that you don’t need to go to a crowded baggage claim carousel. And, most importantly, be vigilant. Travel will come back and we will all be ok.
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